Green Ribbon

“It’s like… everywhere you go has a little impact on you. I want to have a little impact everywhere I go too.”

She brushed a few strands of hair from her forehead and straightened up. A green ribbon fluttered where she’d tied it to the bus stop bench. She smiled at it softly, then she looked at me and beamed. And my heart caught in my throat.

That was our first date. It was also the moment I knew I wanted a second.

It was a quirk of hers, the ribbons. She’d stop in the middle of a date to cut a length of green ribbon from the roll she kept in her purse and tie it to something nearby. A green ribbon decorated the fence around the ferris wheel, the branch of a tree, and the occasional stop sign. I would pause and wait each time she’d stop. I never knelt next to her or climbed after her, but I’d watch her in quiet wonder.

“We should pick a color for you,” she said once when she bounced back to my side and laced her fingers with mine. “We can tie both ribbons wherever we go, and then the whole world will know we were there together!”

The whole world? I asked, skeptical.

“The whole world!” Then she looked at me and beamed.

That was three months into our relationship. It was also the moment I knew I wanted the whole world to know we were together.

I grew so used to those green ribbons being part of my day-to-day life. She’d tied one around the leg of my coffee table, the handle of my fridge, and the lamp on my bedside table. So, even on the days I didn’t see her, she was always on my mind.

It’s funny–she wanted to have a little impact everywhere she went. But every time I saw one of those ribbons… the impact on me was profound.

“Pink seemed like a good color for you.”

Suddenly, she was leaving. A job in another state. It was a good position for her–a good move. It would just take her so far away from me.

I looked at the roll of pink ribbon she’d given me for longer than I meant to. Silently–I knew if I talked, I’d cry–I cut a long piece. I leaned forward. I lifted her hair gently. Then I tied the ribbon around it, adjusting the bow to sit just over her ear.

I held her while her shoulders shook, until I had to let her go. My throat ached with words I couldn’t say.

So I settled for: You changed my life for the better.

“You changed mine too. For the better.” Then she looked at me and smiled sadly through her tears.

That was five months into our relationship. It was also the moment we broke up.

I cut down the green ribbons at home; they hurt too much to see. I changed the route I would walk, so I could avoid seeing the ribbons on the fence, the tree, or the stop signs. None of it helped me forget her.

We fell out of touch after she left. I never knew what to say or how to reach out. I think she’s doing well. I really hope she’s doing well. I bet she still ties those green ribbons wherever she goes. I know she has an impact wherever she goes.

I only tied one other pink ribbon. I tied it to the bus stop bench. They’re still tied there: one pink and one green. I think they’re a little reminder to the whole world of the impact she has…

the impact I have…

and the impact we had together.

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